Boxing SA woes: No board, no tournament

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa is accused of sewing divisions in the affairs of Boxing South Africa. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa is accused of sewing divisions in the affairs of Boxing South Africa. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Feb 4, 2024


BOXING South Africa (Boxing SA) fans and promoters may have to look outside the country to watch and enjoy boxing tournaments as a serious legal battle looms at the doorsteps of Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa.

Kodwa stands accused by the National Professional Boxing Promoters Association (NPBPA) of sowing divisions in the combat sport for allegedly failing to consult the association when he appointed a new board in November last year.

Boxing SA’s new board was expected to serve from December 2023 until December 2026. Sifiso Shongwe was the new chairperson, replacing Luthando Jack.

However, the new board was prevented from assuming its duties after the state attorney said in a letter written in December 2023 that the new board “would not assume duties tomorrow pending the finalisation of the matter brought by the Association”.

The NPBPA, chaired by East London-based Ayanda Matiti, said in papers lodged at the Gauteng high court, Pretoria, that the new board was unlawful because the association had not been consulted by the minister before announcing the new executive in November.

Chairperson of the National Professional Boxing Promoters Association Ayanda Matiti. Picture: Supplied.

The Boxing Act, which governs the running of professional boxing, states: “The minister must appoint the members of Boxing SA on a part-time basis after consultation with the association or federation of associations.”

Section 28 of the Boxing Act allows for the establishment of associations for promoters, boxers, trainers, managers and officials, as well as a federation of the separate associations.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Matiti said it was strange that Kodwa chose to ignore them even when various attempts to advise him had been made.

He stated that they decided to approach the court in an attempt to stop the alleged illegal appointment of the new board.

“Before the court case, we wrote to the minister as we wanted to take him into confidence as boxing promoters in South Africa so that he understands and can intervene where necessary. Had we had a meeting and sat with him, we would have been able to brief him on various issues.”

Matiti stated that prior to the appointment of the new board, Kodwa scheduled a meeting for November 28, 2023, but that never happened.

“He appointed people to the board without any consultation. The minister doesn’t promote boxing in the country, we do. Upon hearing that the minister was to appoint a board, we wrote to him and requested that he defer the appointments as there were laws he had overlooked unconsciously or deliberately.”

He mentioned that the day after the board was appointed, the new board lifted the suspension of the Operations Director, Mandla Ntlanganiso, without understanding the nature of charges against him.

Following the lifting of his suspension, Ntlanganiso was then appointed Acting CEO, a move which the association described as being “in contempt of court”.

“This reckless decision by the minister has helped us to pay attention to the law. We have always fought with Boxing SA because they would commit to sponsoring a boxing event and along the way, they would pull out. Boxers in South Africa don’t even have belts. As a boxer, you will never have anything to show to your children. The promoter must buy belts for boxers.”

He added that since the matter was now before the courts, no boxing tournaments could take place and this meant that boxers and promoters were not generating an income until the matter had been resolved by the courts.

“There’s very militant racist groups that have undermined everything we have done. The treasurer of this organisation had an interview on the radio and only at the end we discovered that the person interviewing our treasurer also works for the minister. Now that’s unbecoming,” said Matiti.

Contacted for comment, Kodwa insisted that he had followed due process.

“I consulted, it doesn't mean I consulted physically. They submitted about five names as the association and those names included those who were in the former board. If I remember correctly, out of five names, there was only one new name. Based on the assessment we had made, we wanted new board members. After the appointment of the board, they brought the matter to court.”

Asked whether it was not strange that a few hours after the new board was appointed they moved to lift Ntlanganiso’s suspension and immediately appointed him acting CEO, Kodwa said he would not comment as the matter was before the courts.